Day 9 of Project 365: Bagpipes in the mist.

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2016-01-09

I was promised bagpipes. And there were bagpipes.

Everything else was icing.

Speaking of icing, when I set out for Holyrood Park this morning at my usual brisk warm-up walking pace, I slipped and fell. It wasn’t a bad fall, although a passer-by stopped long enough to tell me that I should be walking in the road (thanks, I think). While taking eensy baby steps the rest of the way to the starting line, I wondered if running a race was the best thing to be doing at -1°C (30.2°F). Although I was prepared mentally and had plenty of layers on, I worried a little about the state of the course.

When I arrived to my wave’s place in the starting line-up, the race organisers announced that there was nothing to fear. Plenty of grit had been placed on the course, three times over, and so I took my place and we were soon off!

Even though the first third of this particular course is all uphill, I was immediately glad to be running it. It was misty and cold but not wet. I got to see the swans in their pond one last time. I tried to peek down into Duddingston but it was so misty that I could barely make it out.

And the pipers! There were pipers at the 1k, 2k, 3k, and 4k markers. Some runners stopped to take selfies with the pipers. I asked the piper at the 3k marker if I could take his picture and he obliged. (I loved running in the slowest wave. Most of us were just trying to finish, not get any PRs, so lots of us stopped for pictures and chatted as we jogged.)

Shocking no one, I listened to the original Broadway cast recording of “Hamilton” as I ran. This was one of the best ideas I have ever had and it resulted in the following tweet:

The last bit of the course is all blessedly downhill so I got one last soar down Arthur’s Seat to the finish line. And then:

I hope I never fall out of love with this musical.

It was a slow 5k, even by my standards. I don’t even have accurate statistics because Runmeter quit at the start (due to a RAM issue that I now know how to fix) and I had inexplicably left my Garmin at home even though I remembered to bring my lip balm but it is pumpkin spice lip balm so before you question my priorities remember I’m a white girl and this is pumpkin spice lip balm we’re talking about here people.

As this is a special post doing double-duty as a race report, you get a second photo today. It’s a super-creepy selfie I took on the walk home. What is going on with my eyeballs in this shot? I’m not even looking in the right place and I’m the one taking the photo! It’s all the pumpkin spice.

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When I got home, I took a very hot shower and discovered just how cold I had gotten because it was all going so well and I was warming up and then everything itched all at once like I was one giant chicken-pock. (Yep, that’s the singular of “pox”.) It was still a great shower, and a great race. No matter where I live, Arthur’s Seat will always be my favourite extinct volcano.

And thank you, anonymous person, for donating to the Joshua Nolan Foundation. Your generosity will help someone here get the mental health counselling they need.

Day 8 of Project 365: One last 5k around Arthur’s Seat.

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2016-01-08

Shortly after moving to Edinburgh, I met an extraordinary woman named Laura. She is extraordinary because she somehow picked up the pieces of her life after her son Joshua took his own life at only twenty-two years old. And after she picked up those pieces, she forged ahead to found the Joshua Nolan Foundation the very next year.

Tomorrow will be my last 5k race around Arthur’s Seat, at least for now, and I’m running to raise awareness for the Joshua Nolan Foundation. The Joshua Nolan Foundation works with their partner counsellors to fund counselling sessions for people who have been identified as ‘at risk’ of suicide. If you or someone you know has been impacted by not having access to this kind of support, please consider donating to the Joshua Nolan Foundation.

And please think fleet-footed thoughts for me around 10:00 GMT tomorrow! I’m a bit creaky but I want to finish strong for such an important cause.

She’s highly qualified and she’s not a joke.

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Today was my first day of work without training wheels. It went well! I felt useful and yet so, so new at the same time, which is a complicated feeling but I liked it.

I also registered for my first half-marathon. Gulp.

No, I haven’t been writing about running lately, although I’ve still been doing it in a somewhat desultory fashion. The late sunrise and early sunset times in conjunction with my new job have made it more challenging than usual, but I feel great when I get home and go right back out again. My new and improved training schedule is a little intense because the race is … about nine weeks away. Gulp. And in another country. Gulp-gulp!

(I really am very excited about it. Today is just the initial jolt of “this is happening” nerves.)

So. Let’s rip the training wheels off these metaphorical bikes and rush straight and true into whatever comes next.

I will tell you one thing: I will not be running that half-marathon in a tutu, cowboy hat, fake moustache, and sheriff’s badge like I did for the MoRunning 5K last month. Running in fancy dress is way more difficult than it has any right to be. I will tell you another thing: walking down the Royal Mile, post-race, still in my running gear, tutu, cowboy hat, and fake moustache, and sheriff’s badge was one of the best times I’ve ever had. So many double-takes, so much shocked laughter. I mean, really, if you saw this walking toward you, what else could you do?

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Writing from: the propped-up iPad in bed, so this took ages. Listening to: “Damn Good Times” by They Might Be Giants.

Cyg Runs for Iain Banks

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Cyg Runs for Iain Banks

The summer has been so hectic that I forgot to fundraise (or even mention, really) this Sunday’s 10K race. I am fundraising for Cancer Research UK in memory of Iain Banks.

Race Report: 2013 Edinburgh Marathon Festival 10K

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2013 EMF 10K Runmeter

(click the race map for my stats)

The 2013 Edinburgh Marathon Festival 10K last Saturday was not only my first 10K race but my first time racing with a friend. It turned out to be just as fun as I hoped it would be, and I am so grateful for the experience.

The day before, I rested, hydrated, and ate well. Gingiber (my race partner) and Seth came by for a cuppa and we chatted about the next day. Despite the time difference, I got to Skype for a few moments with FunkyPlaid before I went to sleep. Unfortunately, I did not sleep well. I woke up later than intended and had my usual banana and porridge later than intended, too. This would come back to bite me later.

Just before 08:00, I met Gingiber at her flat to hand off the cookies I made the night before so that Seth could bring them to us at the finish line. (If you like cookies like I like cookies, make a point to do this.) We walked down to Holyrood Park in an easy pace. The weather was gorgeous, warm and cloudless.

In the forty minutes that passed like a blink, Holyrood Park filled with runners and spectators. We had one last pit-stop and then I drank half a bottle of water, which was unwise. Gingiber found her friend Carmen, who was also running. There wasn’t any warmup, so once we found our pace group and did some stretching, there was nothing left to do but start the race.

Getting ready for the EMF 10K!

Look at how many of us there are!

Due to the sheer number of participants, the awkward jog/walk to the actual start line was a bit clogged. Carmen soon disappeared into a throng of faster runners. The clog of runners didn’t even out until we passed the first km marker, when the ascent up Arthur’s Seat went from “annoying” to “painful”.

Yet again, after those first 3 km, it was entirely worth it for the views.

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Here we come around the corner (me in green/black behind the day-glo orange runner, Gingiber to the right in black with bright red hair).

Most of the race went by very quickly. My late breakfast and that half a bottle of water combined into a powerful side stitch, which wasn’t fun, but aside from that I felt great. I was shocked when we passed the halfway point, because up until recently that was the longest I had ever run in one go. The reality of running my first 10K race was finally sinking in, and I got very excited. Gingiber was consistently encouraging and positive throughout, which added to the enjoyment. The endorphins didn’t hurt, either.

The water station came up at the 6 km marker. Even though I was dealing with a side stitch, I was extremely thirsty, and so Gingiber and I split a small bottle, just a few sips each. I dumped the rest over my head and back so I could cool down a little. That’s something I didn’t expect: overheating in a race in Scotland.

Running into Duddingston was really fun. There were lots of spectators cheering us on. I loved how Gingiber thanked every single person who gave us a “good job” or “keep going” along the way. And there were many!

The Innocent Railway path was the hardest part of the course for me. My intrepid running partner did not walk once during the race, but I had to walk a few times, particularly during this section. We were already 8 km in, and I was feeling fatigued. The grade, albeit slight, was not helping.

But then there was the awful climb out of there and we were nearly done! Somewhere during that last km, a guy running near us was egging his friend on and thought it’d be similarly motivating to Gingiber and me if he tossed some cold water on us. So he did that. I didn’t like it at all, and muttered something about how if I could catch him, I’d kick his ass. But honestly, if you’re encouraging someone you know, and they don’t mind you throwing water on them, that’s fine and your business. But don’t throw water on me. I don’t know you, and it doesn’t make me want to run faster.

This simple moment made me ponder the nature of motivation and why I enjoy racing. I like it so much because I’m accomplishing a difficult goal alongside lots of other people doing the same thing, all for different reasons. All of those different reasons have different motivations. It is a lovely impulse to want to help motivate someone to do their best, but we should be mindful of how we do it.

But back to the race! Although my gear was dampened, my spirits were not. We were nearing the finish line … except we couldn’t see it. Obviously there was a spectating mass up ahead, but the actual line wasn’t in sight. Though at this point I was turning into my usual soppy self, so maybe I just had something in my eye. Then, suddenly, we turned a sharp left and the finish line was right there. Gingiber said something about running for it and we took off at a sprint. It was a glorious way to cross that sneaky line.

We collected our medals and goody-bags and went off to collapse on the sunny lawn by Our Dynamic Earth. Seth brought us cookies, Carmen found us, and I rode the endorphin high the rest of the day.

Photo on 26-05-2013 at 20.31

So what’s next? When I signed up for my first 5K, I decided that I wanted to run a 5K, a 10K, a half-marathon, and a marathon. I will be running another 10K in July, and on Monday I began training for a half-marathon that I hope to complete before the end of 2013. I just have to find the right race.

As always, I am deeply indebted to my friends and family for encouraging me to do whatever crazy thing makes me happy. This makes me happy. And knowing you believe in me makes me even happier.

I would like to give special thanks to the generous folks who helped me fundraise £160 for Macmillan Cancer Support.